Eye health coalition gains new members

The AOP and Royal College of Ophthalmologists have joined The Eyes Have It partnership


The AOP and Royal College of Ophthalmologists have joined a partnership that aims to raise awareness of the importance of eye health.

The Eyes Have It partnership was established in July 2021 by Fight for Sight, the Macular Society and Roche Products Ltd.

The coalition aims to raise awareness of issues such as delayed referrals, service capacity, a shortage of clinical specialists, the emotional impact of delays to treatment, and the burden of treatment for patients with sight loss

The Eyes Have It is calling for a series of recommendations to be implemented, including appointing a national director for eye care, developing a national strategy for eye care with a focus on alleviating pressure on hospital eye services, and enabling direct referrals from optometry to ophthalmology.

Director of policy at the AOP, Carolyn Ruston, described joining the partnership that aims to raise the profile of eye health across the board as an “honour.”

“We are excited to be part of a group that is prioritising the importance of good eye health and timely treatment for those who need it,” she said.

Chief executive of the AOP, Adam Sampson, said optometrists have a proven track record of providing services that mean patients get access to the care and treatment they deserve.

“This was demonstrated none more so throughout the pandemic when our members played a vital role in reducing waiting list times for all NHS patients who needed eye care and the pressure on hospital eye departments. But investment in the eye care workforce and infrastructure is a key priority to ensure timely access to treatment and better outcomes for patients,” he emphasised.

Eye conditions have been calculated to cost the UK economy £25.5 billion a year, while ophthalmology is the busiest specialty within the NHS.

President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Professor Bernie Chang, shared that the number of people living with sight loss in the UK is predicted to double by 2050.

“We have been impressed by the work carried out by The Eyes Have It partnership in raising political awareness of issues relating to sight loss and eye care, and we want to further bolster that work,” he said.

Earlier this year MP Jim Shannon hosted a Westminster Hall debate on issues surrounding eye health, while in October 2021 a Westminster Eye Health Day event was attended by more than 50 MPs.